Nothing fishy about the Salmon River

Idaho’s Salmon River is called the River of No Return, because the powerful rapids wouldn’t let you go upstream by boat.  The River itself drops a whopping 7,000 feet (2,134 mtrs) from its humble beginnings near the Galena Summit in the Sawtooth Mountains and its confluence with the Snake River.

With a length of 425 miles (684 km) the Salmon River is the longest river in the lower 48.  Not only that, but when you cross the Salmon below its confluence with the Middle Fork you are crossing two time zones, as this part of the river forms the border between Mountain Time and Pacific Time.

And the Salmon River is truly majestic, as it flows through a vast wilderness in the second deepest gorge on the continent. Only the Snake River (Hells) Canyon is deeper. The Salmon’s granite-walled canyon is truly impressive, being 1,000 feet (304m) deeper than the Grand Canyon. In fact, for approximately 180 miles (290kms), the Salmon Canyon is more than one mile (1600m) deep.

Much of the length of the Salmon is reserve, particularly as it flows through the Sawtooth National Recreation Area where hiking, backpacking, white water rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, fishing and hunting are all allowed.

Two sections of the river are protected as National Wild and Scenic Rivers.

As you would expect of a river that was named after a species of fish, you can catch you fair of salmon in the river, as well as steelhead and other species of trout, sturgeon and more.  The River os a natural wonderland, being home to badger, beaver, black bear, cougar, coyote, elk, skunk and many more creatures, including the grey wolf.    

From North Fork to Corn Creek, the spectacular canyon of the Salmon River has exposed some of the oldest known rocks in the state of Idaho. In the vicinity of Shoup, these rocks, called gneiss, have been dated as 1.5 billion years old. From Corn Creek to Long Tom Bar, the majority of the rocks exposed in the canyon walls are part of the Idaho Batholith. These rocks are generally called quartz monzonite and are approximately 65 million years old. The canyon itself was formed 35 to 45 million years ago.

There are also hot springs in the area for those who like to enjoy the therapeutic qualities of the mineral-rich waters.  One of the areas with hot springs is Challis.  The natural mineral springs at the Challis Hotsprings are fed from an underground geo-thermal source up through two gravel bottom pools at nearly 3 cubic feet per second (CFS). The gravel bottom pools allow for the mineral springs to continually fill providing constant circulation of fresh water.  There are a couple of pools here, plus camping and other accommodation.

2 comments to Nothing fishy about the Salmon River

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